Newspapers in Suffolk Part 6

from 1901 ~ 1914


   It seems very much in keeping with the other books in this series to begin with a few light-hearted items, the like of which our local papers over nearly 300 years have become so adept at unearthing. 



A story is current that while the Leiston Territorials were guarding the Aerodrome at Yarmouth, a stranger approached on a motorcycle.  He was challenged by sentry number one: no reply; succeeded in passing number two, who then shouted out to number three.   The latter at once brought his rifle and bayonet to the charge, and, according to the narrative, pierced the motorist’s front tyre.   It was then discovered that the rider was a naval officer.  

We are sorry to spoil this story, but we are credibly informed the tyre was not pierced - it would have been if the stranger had advanced another inch.

                        Leiston Observer:  August 7th 1914



An extraordinary case of burying the wrong man has occurred at Bethnal Green.  Thomas Weston, the man who was supposed to be in his grave, is a general labourer, and some weeks ago he disappeared, seeking work among the fruit pickers. A body was found in the Thames at Battersea on Wednesday week.  It was almost beyond identification, but it was that of a man of diminutive stature and manifestations of heart disease and brain paralysis were discovered.   In these details it answered to the absent Weston.  The colour of the hair and the tattoo marks on one elbow carried absolute conviction to Weston’s brother.   A coroner’s jury ultimately decided it was Weston’s body, and Mrs. Weston drew five guineas insurance money, and buried the dead man at Morden and spent the balance on food and mourning. Weston however returned home on Tuesday night.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  August 11th 1906


The man Bantick, who left his home at Ardleigh a few days ago under circumstances that caused alarm to his relatives, has returned to the village.  He darkly hinted that he was going on a long journey and would never be seen again, but it is believed that he did not get beyond Lavenham.

            Suffolk Chronicle:  January 22nd 1904


A farmer, finding a motor-horn one day upon the road, took it home and taught his poultry to gather for meals with its toot.   All went merrily enough till one day, a motor-car passing the poultry yard, blew a loud blast, whereupon the entire brood ran out and scorched after the motor, till 14 pullets and three roosters dropped dead in the road from exhaustion.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  October 7th 1905


Mr. Naylor, who resides at Number 17, Walpole Road (Gt. Yarmouth) has been made the victim of a practical joker’s trick.   He was at first surprised at finding a copy of a daily journal left each morning at his house last week at breakfast time, although it had not been ordered.   On Saturday, a grocer delivered 160 eggs and half a side of bacon.   Messrs. Chateau and Co. also sent a ton of coal, which Mr. Naylor explained he could not take it, as he had not ordered it.   After that, another coal cart brought half a ton from Mr. Futter.   The next caller was Mr. Rosenthal of Market Row, who had received a request on a postcard to go and measure Mr. Naylor for a suit; but this order was also bogus.   Then a gentleman representing an insurance company arrived, who had come from Ipswich on instructions to arrange a   policy on Mr. Naylor’s life, but the request was a fictitious one.  

    Finally, an undertaker came to the house, who had orders to attend and see about a coffin, which, of course, was another incident of the shameful hoax.

            Diss Express:  August 18th 1905


A cookery teacher was giving a lesson to a class of children, and questioning them about the various joints of mutton.  The neck, shoulder, leg, and loin had been mentioned.   “Now,” said the teacher, “there is another joint no one has mentioned.  Come Mary, I know your father is a groom.   What does he often put on a horse?”

“A shilling each way, Miss,” was the unexpected answer.

            Aldeburgh Post:  August 21st 1914



The social issues of the day

The poor were very much in evidence, but a lot of charitable work was being directed towards them and they received a   generally sympathetic press.


Miss Furze of Wickham Market was thanked by the Guardians for a supply of buns for the old women in the workhouse.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  May 6th 1905


The Plomesgate Guardians meeting reported… The tramps are decreasing, only 15 having been relieved during the week, which is a reduction of 12 on the corresponding period of last year.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  April 1905


School attendance was still a big issue, any number of reasons being offered for children’s absence.  When a case came to court, these excuses rarely had any effect on the magistrates’   decision.


Wm. Linsell, yachtsman and fisherman, (of Aldeburgh) was charged, at sessions held at the Moot Hall, with neglecting to send his daughter, aged 5 years, regularly to school.   He stated that his child had been sent back by the teachers on account of the alleged condition of her head.  He characterised the action of the teachers as “stingy” and “arbitrary” and said that the condition of her head was due to “what she caught at school.”  The magistrate reproved the defendant for his attitude towards the bench and unfair charges made against the teachers.

                        Leiston Observer:  June 19th 1914



Herbert Ward of Troston, was summoned for not sending his child, Janet, to school regularly.  Mr. T.W. Wright, attendance officer, stated that the child had not attended school once during a period in which the school had been opened 38 times.   Mrs. Ward had told him she should not allow the child to attend school, as the mistress had caned her for nothing. Mrs. Ward, a lady with a considerable flow of language, said a little girl was directed by the schoolmistress to put down the names of the children who misbehaved themselves.   Witness’s little boy John was talking, and the girl wrote down “J. Ward,” and the mistress took it to mean Janet, who was thus caned for nothing.   A fine of 5 shillings, including costs was imposed.

                        Bury Post:  March 19th 1901


Neglect and ill-treatment of children featured regularly at this time.  Mary Ann Tatum, wife of Isaac George Tatum of Cockfield, was summoned to Long Melford Petty sessions for neglecting her children, in a case brought by the N.S.P.C.C.

The children were described as…

...badly clothed with scarcely any boots on.  The house was neglected and dirty especially where the (8) children slept.  Defendant said she had done her duty to her children.  She had gone without a meal many a morning in order to let the children go to school.  She had 12s a week, and out of that she had to buy 6 stone of bread which cost 6s., and 1cwt of coal at 1s 5d, so there was not much left.  Her husband never went into a Public House from one year’s end to another and she did not go either.  The chairman said they could not exonerate defendant from blame.  If they fined her, there would be all the less money for her unfortunate children, so they sent her to prison for 14 days.   Defendant asked to be allowed to take her six months old child with her and this was granted.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  Feb. 4th 1909


Corporal punishment was still regarded by most as acceptable, even necessary, but not all agreed who should be empowered to administer it.  The following letter was published in both the East Anglian Daily Times and the Evening Star, under the headline ‘CASTIGATION OF IPSWICH CHOIRBOYS’


Sir, - will you kindly inform us (through the columns of your valuable papers) if a clergyman is allowed by law to thrash his choir boys, seven in number, with a bamboo cane, simply for a misunderstanding.  I think that was overstepping his duty.   Yet, such was the conduct of the Rev. Canon Tompson, Rector of St. Mary’s, Stoke.  Last Saturday night, the boys went to church for the practice, they were told; but what happened was that some of them received a thrashing for hurrying out of church on Friday after their practice was ended.   Last summer when the Rev. gentlemen took his choir to Yarmouth for their outing, six were left at Yarmouth so that they had to stop in the waiting room all night.       



On being asked about this by a reporter, the canon explained the boys had undergone…


...a ‘slight correction’ in the way of corporal punishment, which was gently administered with a cane after the fashion to which school boys used to be more accustomed than they are now.   The clergyman added that the plucky ones who chose to take the punishment were really more manly than the so called ‘indignant parents’ who had complained.  The reporter was unable to find a boy who had been punished in this way to hear his opinion as to whether it was slight or otherwise.

Evening Star:  March 9th 1903


At a time when women were beginning to make their voice heard, this story appeared...



The residents of Ysciefiog, a mountain village in Flintshire are deeply perturbed over a question of sex superiority, which has arisen.  The County Educational Authority had decided to appoint a headmistress for the village school, whereupon the local school managers and parents protested emphatically that a headmaster be appointed, on the grounds that in the matter of maintaining discipline among the older boys and the imparting of religious instruction, a female teacher compared unfavourably with a male teacher.  At a meeting held, the    county authority decided to adhere to their previous decision.

            Newmarket Journal:  February 10th 1912


But the big issue of the day was women’s suffrage.  The papers were full of it, as influential women (and men) made their opinions known.



A large audience mainly composed of ladies assembled in the Corn Exchange, Ipswich, on Thursday evening to hear Miss Christabel Pankhurst upon the women’s suffrage question.   The gathering took place with local members wearing scarves with the words “Votes For Women” upon them.  At the end of the meeting, £24 3s 6d was collected.

            Bury Post:  May 13th 1910


Mrs Despard, the veteran in the ‘Votes For Women’ campaign was in Stowmarket on Tuesday, and in the evening spoke in the Institute Hall.   The case put was that as ladies paid taxes to the state, bearing the burden of the state, then they should have a voice in the spending of the money.   Many suffragettes had refused to pay.


Suffragettes were regarded as cranks, yet cranks were often pioneers. Women needed the vote to have a voice in government, asserted Mrs. Despard, and they needed equal pay for doing the same work as men. 

            Bury Post:  June 3rd 1910


In 1913, Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst was sentenced to three years penal servitude for... ...inciting certain unknown women to commit an outrage at the house at Walton Heath, which was being built for Mr. Lloyd George.   The house had been partly blown up with explosives on February 19th.   At the announcement, bedlam broke out in the crowded court-room.   Cries of “Shame” were heard and “Marching on” and the “Marsellaise” were sung.   The judge tried to clear the court, but without much success.  It was a scene unparalleled in a court of law.

Lowestoft Weekly Press:  April 5th 1913


What was now rather more than just civil disobedience, made local headlines in April 1914, when Hilda Birkett and Florence Tunks set fire to the Bath Hotel at Felixstowe as part of their ‘Votes for Women’ campaign.  The hotel was empty at the time, but was completely gutted.  Crowds gathered for their trial at Bury Assizes on May 29th, where they both received prison sentences.

    For some, though, matters closer home were of far greater importance.  At the monthly meeting of the West Suffolk Education Committee at Shire Hall, Bury, a request for a bath to be fitted in the house of the Schoolmaster at Haverhill was rejected on the grounds of cost. In spite of the fact it was stated that the Superintendent of Police had recently had a geyser fitted, at public expense, it was remarked that…


...though a good deal has been said about cleanliness being next to godliness, many people, especially those in the country have to keep clean without fixed baths.

            South East Suffolk Echo: April 29th 1911


At a time when drink-related crime was at its height, teetotalism still had its supporters...


The oldest known English Teetotaller is dead.   Mrs. Eleanor Sampson of Paddington was born in January 1802 and leaves twelve children, all daughters… she had 35 grandchildren and 82 great grandchildren.   They are all total abstainers.

            Lowestoft Journal:  February 23rd 1901



Death in Edwardian times

There appears to have been something of a fascination with death during this period, fuelled by an epidemic of suicides, many of them quite bizarre.


Mary Ann White (72) of Walpole was found by her husband, head downwards in a rainwater tub in the garden of their cottage.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  June 24th 1905


Harry Yhrym (62) of Wilby killed himself by cutting his throat with a scythe.   The Coroner was of the opinion he would have taken about half an hour to die.

            Suffolk Chronicle:  September 2nd 1904


Accidental and other remarkable deaths appeared in just about all editions, even when there was no obvious local connection.


Mr. J. Cohen of Brighton died on Friday in a barber’s chair at Cardiff.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  March 4th 1909



A tragic occurrence took place on Tuesday night at a musical party given at Moray House, Lewisham.  Miss Rosetta Barnaby, Sir Nathaniel Barnaby’s second daughter, was singing a duet called “Good-night” with another lady, and had just finished, the last words being ‘Good night,’ when she suddenly sank into a chair in a collapsed condition.  Death followed almost immediately.

            South East Suffolk Echo:  January 6th 1912


Mr. William Abraham… met with a terrible death in his garden at Upminster in Essex on Thursday afternoon.   While putting sticks to his chrysanthemums one of them broke off short, and he fell forward on another, which pierced his right eye and penetrated his brain.   Mr. Abraham managed to stagger to the kitchen pulling the stick out on the way, but he died soon afterwards.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  August 11th 1906


At the unexpected death of William Forrington (71) of Harlesden, Middx. from an enlarged heart, it was stated he was a man of fine physique and had always enjoyed the best of health, but …Forrington was an old soldier and accustomed to puff out his chest, the doctor added.  To this pernicious practice in the British Army, his death was due.  It is not done in any other country and medical men generally are agreed on its bad effects and that it should be stopped.

Supplement to Framlingham Weekly News:  March 9th 1907


A Leicester family were camping out close by the village of Blaby and on Sunday evening a little child dropped an empty ginger beer bottle on to a full one, causing it to explode.   A piece of glass struck a little boy belonging to the family on the neck with such force that a severe wound was caused, severing the jugular vein.  

            South East Suffolk Echo:  January 6th 1912


Rosie Page, an eight year old girl living at Dalston became the first victim in England of a diabolo when the wooden spool, in its fall, struck her on the head, leading to her death.  

            Diss Express:  December 6th 1907


Working in agriculture was a hazardous pursuit...


An inquest was heard on Frederick William Hammond (18) who died whilst carting straw with Robert Leftley of Fressingfield.   They had a quiet horse and a tumbril.   The deceased was riding on the top of the straw, holding the handle of his fork as they entered the yard of Hayward’s farm.   There was a drop into the yard.   Deceased then fell from the straw.   One of the fork tines had punctured both lungs and his heart, which accounted for almost instant death.

            Diss Express:  November 3rd 1905


Walter Moore, a horseman employed by Mr. J. W. Saunders of this parish (Gislingham) met with a nasty accident whilst at Stowmarket on Monday morning.  He called at Messrs. Woods and Co.’s premises to load some farm feeding machinery, during which the horses were tied to a gate.  One became restless and kicked Moore twice.  Dr. Stanley, who was summoned, found that Moore had a fractured jaw resulting from the kick.   After receiving medical attention, the injured man was removed to Ipswich Hospital.

            Diss Express:  October 6th 1911


He was lucky.  Walter Moore’s own father had died, 14 years       earlier, falling from a hay-rick.  For the reader, whilst death held a fascination, better still was the avoidance of death, especially with a hero thrown in for good measure.



Serious accident in a Chalk pit - A very serious accident occurred on Wednesday morning in the neighbourhood of Risby.   Three men were employed in getting chalk to repair the roads, when the side of the chalk pit under which they were working suddenly fell in, completely burying two of the men, who would inevitably have perished, had it not been for the prompt action of their fellow workman, who, with the greatest difficulty succeeded, after half an hour’s careful digging in rescuing them.  The names of the injured men are Thomas Edwards, who is lying at the hospital with both thighs broken and other injuries; and David Bridge, who is suffering from a wound in the head and a very deep cut above the eye.  The name of the rescuer is Charles Smith, whose quickness and courage alone saved the men from suffocation, and his services merit the highest commendation.

                Bury Post:  January 22nd 1901



Medical matters

For most people, doctors were still too expensive, and anyway, many of their problems were down to bad diet.  Judging by the number of patent medicines advertised, herein lay the answer to many of their health concerns.  The Stowmarket Weekly Post and Bury Post gave regular accounts of the wonders of ‘Zam-Buk’, apparently capable of curing just about any skin   disease known to man…


For two years, Mr. Reuben Betts, a miner of 24, Wharfe Road, Pinxton Derby experienced the horrors of bleeding piles.   Then he followed the advice of a workmate and tried Zam-Buk with the result that he was quickly and miraculously freed from this torturing disease.  

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  May 13th 1909


The Bury Post for March 1910 advertised Veno’s lightning Cough Cure, as a treatment for bronchitis, asthma and blood-spitting.  The Bury Free Press for May 1908 carried adverts for Dr. Cassell’s tablets, reputed to give bodily vigour and strong nerves.   What is particularly remarkable is the way in which newspaper advertisers concealed their adverts within what appeared, at first glance, to be genuine newspaper articles, headed by eye-catching headlines.



The spring-cleaning of the house is important, but the spring-cleaning of the system is more so… For the spring-cleaning of the body, there is nothing to equal Chas. Forde’s Bile Beans [which appear to have cured tiredness, headache, bilious feelings, eruptions, pimples and other traces of blood impurity, as well as indigestion and ...the run-down condition you experience at the end of the winter].

            Bury Free Press:  April 9th 1904



John Parr (19,) a French polisher, was hanged at Newgate for the murder of his sweetheart, Sarah Willett.   The story of his crime was a sad one, but hardly more harrowing than the story of suffering which Mrs Harriet Colley of Sheffield told to a reporter, in connection with her daughter Nellie, a child of nine, who has now been relieved from her former sad predicament by use of Charles Forde’s Bile Beans for Biliousness.  

            Bury Post:  January 15th 1901


Teeth, false or otherwise, made the newspaper columns of the time.



Many ladies and gentlemen have by them old or disused false teeth, which might as well be turned into money.   Messrs. R.D. & J.B. Fraser of Princes Street, Ipswich, (Estab. 1833) buy old false teeth.   If you send your teeth to them, they will remit you by return of post, the utmost value; or, if preferred, they will make you the best offer, and hold the teeth over for your reply.

            Bury Post:  February 1901


Bowling for False Teeth at Yarmouth


The Nelson Bowling club met on Saturday afternoon on Yarmouth beach to decide who should be the possessor of a handsome five-guinea set of false teeth to be presented by a local dentist. 

Mr. Jasper Burwell, a coal merchant, and Mr. John Pitchers, a smack owner, fought out the final, the latter succumbing.   It seemed a popular victory, and the winner acknowledged the congratulations that rewarded his skill by a smile that disclosed plainly that he had no use for a dentist.   Unfortunately Mr. Burwell’s smile soon vanished.  

“Do you require those teeth for yourself?” asked Mr. Gus Lee Jun. the secretary.

“I do not,” was the answer.

“Do you require them for your wife?” was the next question.

“I do not,” came the instant response.

“Then by the conditions governing the dentist’s offer you cannot have them at all,” said the secretary regretfully, “as only a member or his wife is allowed to benefit.”

Surprise is an inadequate word to use to describe Mr. Burwell’s state on hearing this.   It was explained to him that he could claim the prize by submitting to painless extraction, but he refused point-blank to consent to the removal, painless or otherwise, of one single bicuspid.   Many suggestions were offered, but in the end Mr. Burwell slung his bowls over his shoulder, shook hands good-humouredly all round, and walked off the green a prizeless winner.

    Later in the evening - when the town had simmered down - a sort of sea-lawyer discovered a way out …that as no time limit was mentioned by the dentist, the offer must hold good for the rest of the natural lives of Mr. & Mrs. Burwell.  “Always provided of course, that the dentist is alive too,” were his parting words.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  August 24th 1907


The understanding of mental health was in its infancy.


Dr. Francis Warner, addressing the National Association for the feeble-minded demonstrated how certain physical features gave an indication of the mental condition of children.   The absence of the pleat ridge from the outside ear…the small mouth often praised by novelists…horizontal furrows on the brow (Go into the monkey house at the zoo and you will see the same thing)…the hand dropped at the wrist or the thumb dropped ...are signs of mental weakness.

            Diss Express:  December 1st 1905


One of the great medical mysteries of this time was the       diagnosis of a handful of deaths in the Shotley peninsula from bubonic plague, the first in this country for nearly 250 years. Between 1906 and 1913, a number of reports like this were published, including the last recorded deaths in this country from bubonic plague.



A dead rat, found at Harkstead, Suffolk has been sent to the local Government Board whose experts pronounce it to be infected with the plague bacillus.  

Lowestoft Weekly Press:  February 1st 1913



Crime in all its forms

A self-righteous middle-class readership liked nothing better than to read about what their friends and neighbours had been doing to land themselves in court.

Under the headline, “Fracas at Cotton,” Walter Smith, (Blacksmith), and Mary Ann Syrett appeared at Petty sessions held at Eye, accusing each other of assault.  Mrs Syrett had objected to Smith cutting the hedge that divided their           properties and she picked up a piece he had cut off, in order to take it to the Constable.   He replied... “that it was not worth taking away and he cut the woman a larger piece.”   Laughter was heard in court, not for the last time.   


Mrs Syrett, a young and powerful woman appeared in court with her head swathed in bandages. Smith, who is a much smaller and elderly man had a black eye and bruises on the forehead, and as the pair approached the Magistrate, he remarked, ‘You appear to have been in the wars.’ 


According to witness accounts, the two had fought over the hook that had been used to cut the hedge, and both had been struck with it.  Apparently, Mrs Syrett had said to Smith and his family, “Thank God for my great strength.   I can hide three folk like you,” before ‘throwing them about like kittens.’   As she had struck the first blow, Mrs Syrett was fined 10 shillings; Smith was fined 1shilling, both having to pay costs of 9 shillings and 6 pence.

            Suffolk Chronicle:  October 17th 1902


In June 1914, attention was drawn away from the imminent war by more parochial matters…  


Charles Smith, blacksmith at Tunstall was summoned to court at Woodbridge for disturbing a clergyman whilst conducting Divine service at Tunstall Parish Church.   Mr. Charles Hambling, a churchwarden said… defendant was continually disturbing the congregation by his singing… when spoken to, he said that he would continue his conduct.   The disturbance was so great that it was impossible for the clergyman to conduct the service.   The defendant sang out of tune, very loud, and continued long after the others had ceased… this went on Sunday after Sunday and got on the people’s nerves.   Defendant had been repeatedly warned and there seemed no doubt that it was done intentionally.  

    William Walpole Pepper, a farm bailiff of Tunstall said that…the defendant was a general annoyance to the congregation.  The Reverend Thomas George Horwood, Rector of Tunstall said the noise was most discordant.   He had hoped that it was a frenzy and that it would stop.   Defendant travelled about all over the church and simply defied the authority of the churchwarden.  

    On being fined £1 with £1 7s 4d costs, Charles Smith claimed he could not afford to pay and therefore would go to prison for fourteen days.   The rector asked whether it might not be more appropriate for him to be bound over.  The chairman of the bench replied: “The congregation have invoked the aid of the law, and the bench have dealt with the case to the best of their ability.   If the congregation think they have been too severe, they have the remedy of subscribing towards the payment of part of the fine.”

            Leiston Observer:  June 19th 1914


Glemsford - CONCEALED IN THE FOWL HOUSE - On Saturday evening, a young man named Wordley paid a visit to the farmyard of Mr. A. Largef, Churchgate Farm.   He was found by Inspector Berry in one of the fowl houses, where he was concealed for an unlawful purpose.   He was taken to the police station at Long Melford the same evening and will appear before the magistrates in due course.

            Suffolk & Essex Free Press:  January 29th 1902


Alfred Brooke Newson farmer of Old Newton was charged with being drunk in charge of a horse and cart at Haughley.   In spite of five witnesses appearing to attest to his sobriety, he was convicted and fined 10s. with £3 15s. costs.

            Diss Express:  November 15th 1907


Wm. Holland, a drover of no settled abode, was brought into Stowmarket sessions in August 1910, charged with being drunk and disorderly.  It was revealed that he already had 54 convictions, most for being drunk, dating back to 1866.  As he had not given too much trouble, he was sentenced to seven days under lock and key.

(Stowmarket Post:  August 11th 1910)


Most crime was petty and resulted in fines...

   Philip Newton of Stansfield was found guilty of using an unlicensed dog-cart at Clare in May 1911.   He was fined 1s, with 6d costs.

   In January 1912, Arthur Palmer and Herbert Bullman of Soham were found guilty of playing ‘pitch and toss’ on a Sunday.   They had been fined 7/6d before and were fined 10s this time.

    William Wells of Newmarket was bound over for stealing a bushel and a half of acorns in January 1912 .  “I was drunk at the time and it was a joke,” he explained.   He was warned if he misbehaved in the next six months, he would forfeit £5.

(All taken from the Newmarket Journal)


Serious crime resulted in more detailed reports.


EXTRAORDINARY AFFAIR IN A PUBLIC HOUSE - ATTEMPT TO STRANGLE THE LANDLADY - At a special petty session, held at Stowmarket on Saturday, Thomas Makens, 60, drover, of Stowmarket was charged on a warrant with having tried to strangle with a rope, and threatened to kill, Mrs. Emeline Smith, wife of Frederick Smith, landlord of the Vulcan Arms Beerhouse, Bury Street.  


The evidence produced by the police was to the effect that on Thursday afternoon, prisoner went into the Vulcan Arms where he was well known, and called for a glass of beer.   Mrs Smith served him, and he then made improper remarks to her, and attempted to interfere with her.   She struggled to get away.


…but her assailant then pulled a rope out of his pocket, and, throwing it over her head with a running knot endeavoured to strangle her.   Mrs. Smith screamed for assistance.   A butcher named Philip Medcalf ran to her aid and at once cut the rope.   The police were sent for and a warrant was issued for Makens’ arrest.  This was executed on Friday afternoon when he avowed his intention of killing Mrs. Smith and himself at the first opportunity.   Inspector Stannard took a large case knife away from him …and when searched, a second case-knife with an edge like a razor, a hammer, a length of rope, and a bottle of butter of Antimony [a corrosive fluid used for dressing sheep] were found upon him.       

            Bury Post:  March 19th 1901


When brought before the magistrates, his only reply to the charge was that the woman had deceived him.   He was remanded to Ipswich in order that he might be examined by the prison doctor, and his state of mind enquired into.

    When the case came up in June at the summer Assizes, he was found guilty of an attempt to do grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 18 months hard labour.


Murder has always sold newspapers.  This period included a number of celebrated cases.  Dr. Crippen was hanged in 1910.    But it is the murder of Rose Harsent at Peasenhall in 1902 that has remained a tale to conjure with.  William Gardiner, locally known as ‘Holy Willy,’ was arrested for her murder.  It was widely believed, in the village at the time, that he had been the                                                                     one responsible for her horrendous wounds.  He was tried twice, and twice the jury was unable to reach a decision.  The second time, his defence was aided by an appeal supported by the East Anglian Daily Times.  The Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to call for a third trial and Gardiner was released.  He moved away.  A subscription was raised for a memorial to the murdered girl.



The marble cross which is to be erected on the grave of Rose Harsent, the victim of the Peasenhall tragedy will bear the following inscription…  


In affectionate remembrance of ROSE ANNIE HARSENT

Whose life was cruelly taken on the 1st June 1902 in her 23rd year.

A light is from our household gone

A voice we loved is stilled;

A place is vacant in our home

That never can be filled.


The cost of the memorial is about £20 and what surplus there is will be handed over to the parents.

            Evening Star:  March 30th 1903



On Monday night, towards the termination of the Annual Forresters Fete, a dispute arose between the villages and an attendant on the steam roundabouts, which developed into a serious affray between the showmen and the public.  


What started as a fight quickly became a riot.   Blows were struck, before poles and bars of metal were picked up as weapons.   Then rifles were brought out.   In all, eight people were shot including the village postman Arthur Nice, his wife and son and Walter Syer Double, Parish Constable.   The following day the case was put before the local magistrates.   Though it appeared that one or more of the showmen would be taken into custody, awaiting trial, the bench were clearly not impressed by the behaviour of the locals in starting the fight.  


The chairman advised the Walsham chaps not to consider themselves heroes.   As far as he could make out, they got what they asked for.  


By Friday when the Diss Express published this account, one of the victims, Sam Davey, publican of Blo Norton, had died.   At his inquest, a verdict of unlawful killing was recorded and three of the show people were indicted for murder.   At the Suffolk Assizes, Robert John Gray (36) showman, Samuel Minto (21) a coloured showman and Lavinia Wheatley (40) stood accused of killing one man and wounding seven others.    The evidence was presented in such a way that it was debatable which, if any, of the three had fired the shots.   There had been strong provocation from a rough crowd and the jury were of the opinion none of the defendants could safely be convicted of murder.   Robert Gray was found guilty of unlawful wounding, and sentenced to six months hard labour, which the judge remarked, might be regarded by some as a light sentence.   The other two prisoners were discharged. 

     (Diss Express:  July & November 1911)


    On the 26th July 1902, it was with profound regret that the proprietors of the Ipswich Journal had to announce the final appearance of their paper.   Established in 1720, it claimed to be the 12th oldest newspaper in the United Kingdom and for 182 years played “a not wholly inconspicuous part in the progress and prosperity of the county.”

    Their final major local story focused on a tragic case of   infanticide.   Kate Ellen Hanton (20), a single woman from Finningham, was charged with the murder, at Westhorpe, of her infant son William.   When in custody at Ipswich Gaol, “without any compulsion,” it was claimed she had written the following confession to the Superintendent.


Will you please Sir forgive me for all my wicked things which I have done.   Will promise you faithfully, truly, honestly that I will never do it any more.  It was all through my mother (Charlotte Barker), because she was not very willingly to take the child.   She did not like it because I would not sware it.   It did hurt my feelings so because my step-father (Daniel Barker) would not take any notice of the child, nor never off to nurse it anything; didn’t care about me at all; my step-sister (Edith Barker) was always quarrelling with me, she was never thankful for what I used to give her:  lots of things I have given her, but was no better thought of.   I am afraid I shall never see my mistress (Mrs Cracknell of Hingham, Norfolk) any more.   She has been a very kind mistress to me; have been really a mother to me.   I thank you very much indeed Sir for your kindness to me; as you will do all you can in your power.   I shall be greatly pleased if you would do it for me.

- Kate Hanton.

            Ipswich Journal:  July 26th 1902


On this and other evidence, the Hartismere Magistrates had no hesitation in committing her for trial.

It was left to surviving papers such as the Suffolk Chronicle to report the trial.   Though the report ran for three columns, the jury only had to retire for ten minutes to consider their verdict.   They found Kate Hanton guilty, but strongly recommended her to mercy.  

    In passing sentence of death, which was couched in the usual form and accompanied by the solemn adjustment of the black cap, his Lordship said that anyone who had heard the evidence would not doubt for a moment that the verdict the jury had found was the only verdict that could be arrived at by reasonable men. …He could well understand and quite agree with the view taken by the jury in thinking it was a case which justified mercy. 

    Though she had taken away the life of her child, he believed she had acted under great duress and hinted a reprieve might be forthcoming.  

    The prisoner who, throughout the proceedings, had wept almost incessantly, became strangely composed during the address of his Lordship, and seemed practically unconcerned when sentence of death was passed upon her.  

            Suffolk Chronicle:  November 14th 1902


The following week the same newspaper announced that her reprieve had been sent by the Home Secretary to the Governor of Ipswich Prison.




Nothing is new… 


Under this headline the Lowestoft Journal of April 13th 1901 demonstrated football hooliganism has been around a long time.   In the game between Newcastle United and Sunderland, the match was abandoned as 40,000 spectators spilled onto the pitch.   The 25 policemen present could do little to stop them from fighting, ripping up the goals and throwing missiles.



Fishing stories

With a county boundary largely defined by coastline and river courses, tales of fish and fishermen have always featured in our local newspapers.



Considerable excitement reigned for a time on the beach at Aldeburgh about midday on Friday where the lifeboat crew mustered, expecting the order to launch to aid the sprat drifter Laura which was some three miles out, and beating to windward through a very rough sea in the strong and puffy north-west wind that prevailed. Jack Emeney, Jun., and his plucky crew (four), however, held on under close-reefed canvas, and ultimately, when well down almost abreast with Thorpeness, the little craft was put about, and with re-hoisted sails, scudded along, and gaining smoother water under shelter of the land, safely reached her station on the beach.

            Leiston Observer: December 11th 1913



A member of the Ipswich Piscatorial Ramblers, fishing off Felixstowe Dock Pier on Wednesday afternoon, hooked and landed a lobster weighing 5lb 14 oz.

            Ipswich Journal:  May 31st 1902


The East Anglian Daily Times reported on May 13th 1907 that the fishermen of Lowestoft had landed such a glut of mackerel that had never been seen in the town before.   Traditionally, Cornish fishermen had ventured as far as the North Sea to handle the mackerel harvest.  How-ever, the new steam technology of the East Anglian boats had proved far superior, added to which, the Lowestoft fishermen worked 7 days a week, whereas the Cornishmen observed the Sabbath. Their success came at a price.   In landing over two million fish in one week, the price had been driven down, and many drifters had lost their nets, the weight of the fish sinking them.


The early days of motoring

This period of time was marked by a growth in motor traffic.   Certain corners of the county seemed to have come down   heavily on speeding.   Throughout 1908, the Bury Free Press reported monthly Petty Sessions at Newmarket where six or more motorists were likely to be fined for attaining speeds of at least 20 m.p.h.   On June 13th, the five car drivers and two motor-cyclists fined included a magistrate, a barrister, three chauffeurs and a Cambridge undergraduate.   On August 22nd one of the worst cases involved another undergraduate “zig-zagging past about 50 racehorses.”


Stowmarket U.D.C. agreed a speed-limit should be set, as the rate of driving in the town’s narrow streets could be compared to a flash of lightning through a key hole.

            Bury Free Press:  June 13th 1908



At Ipswich court today, before the Mayor (W.J. Catchpole Esq.) and other Magistrates, Mr. Reginald Egerton (of the firm of Botwood and Egerton, Motor Engineers, Carr Street) was summoned for driving a motor car at more than 12 miles an hour.  

When asked how he knew the car was travelling too fast, Police Constable Frederick James replied: “I hadn’t a stop watch or anything of the kind but I never saw a motor car go through the streets like it before.”


Mr. H. Binks, landlord of the Marsh Tavern estimated the speed at 20 miles an hour.   He went on to say…

...that he waited to see if the car came back and held up his hand for it to stop.   The driver did stop and said to him, ‘Well, what is it?’ 

Witness replied, ‘you have run over my dog.’

Defendant said: ‘no I haven’t, your dog ran under my motor car.’ (laughter)


A further witness, Edward Pyman, coach trimmer, claimed to be somewhat of a judge of pace.   He was an old pedestrian and had seen ‘a lot of racing and some fast trotters in his time.’


In his defence, Mr. Egerton claimed as his car was only in third gear there was no way he could have been travelling at the speed some of the witnesses claimed.   No driver, he asserted, would ever dream of going so fast as that, because of the strain it would put on the engine.

            Evening Star:  March 30th 1903


The bench found him guilty and imposed a fine of £2, with     £1 8s 6d costs. 


In these early days of motor vehicles, accidents were frequent.


Motor Accident at Tot Hill

A motor accident of a somewhat alarming character occurred on Saturday afternoon at Tot Hill, situate between Stowmarket and Haughley.   It appears that on the hill in question, Messrs. Greene, King and Co.’s motor lorry had broken down.   About half past three o’clock, Lady Evelyn Cobbold’s car was coming down the hill.   In front of it was another tractor coming towards Stowmarket and the driver of Lady Evelyn’s car thinking it was being pulled out of his way made no effort to slacken speed.   He then found to his alarm there was insufficient roam to pass, and that the only way to avoid a collision was to take the bank.  This he did, and the car was overturned.  We understand that, fortunately, no injury befell Lady Evelyn, beyond the shock of the startling experience, but her daughter received slight bruises.  The driver was less fortunate, sustaining a broken finger.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  March 4th 1909



A shocking occurrence took place at Rishangles - A man named Ephraim Durrant being accidentally knocked down by a motor belonging to Mr. C. Franklin Wright, Surgeon of Eye …the car, being driven by chauffeur Ambrose Cobb, was free-wheeling down the incline with the brake on when the man stepped back into the road.

            Diss Express:  August 4th 1911


Gislingham - On Thursday evening, Mr. H.B. Ellis of this parish was riding his horse, a high-spirited animal, in London Road, Lowestoft, and when near the Harbour Hotel the animal became frightened by a tram-car.   Owing to the traffic and several people being in the way, Mr. Ellis could not get clear, and his horse after plunging about, eventually jumped over a bicycle clearing both cycle and rider and landed on the pavement, where it lost its footing and fell heavily.   Mr. Ellis was thrown some distance into the road and sustained a fractured ankle and collar-bone. ...The patient is now progressing as satisfactorily as the serious nature of his injuries will permit.  The horse was uninjured.

            Diss Express:  June 28th 1907


   By this time, this and other local papers paper carried a    motoring column, reporting a number of special events. The Halesworth Times for August 21st 1906 reported a ‘Motor Gymkhana held at Hurts Hall Park, Saxmundham, in aid of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Help Society.’  


The Eastern Daily Press for September 15th 1911 described the decline of what had become known as cycle touring.  


For every 100 touring 16 or 20 years ago, you will see but one today.   Men who used to cycle tour on a large scale, now carry bags of golf sticks over half of Europe …and make themselves believe they are having a good time.


It was suggested that the danger caused by bad driving on the roads was putting people off cycling.



An obsession with science and new inventions

This was an exciting time, when new inventions, as well as predictions of those to come, were well reported, sometimes surprising us today just how early some discoveries came about. 



John White alias Henderson, a man of 47, was brought before a court in London accused of theft.   His fingerprints matched those taken from a man sentenced to six months hard labour for jewel robbery in Reading in 1899.   He admitted he was that man and will be sent for trial.

            Suffolk and Essex Free Press:  May 21st 1902


The latest surgical triumph is the grafting of a new set of upper and lower eye lids to the eyes of a man who lost his original set in a fire.  The accident had left both eye-balls entirely unprotected and there was a danger of the victim losing his sight entirely.   It was resolved to replace them …by taking skin from the hip of the patient.   The four new eyelids perform their normal functions naturally.

            Suffolk and Essex Free Press:  June 4th 1902


At the Saxmundham Petty Sessions, in August 1914, Arthur M. Rope of Lower Abbey, Leiston, was fined 40 shillings and costs for selling “New Milk, not of the nature and quality demanded, containing only 1.68% of milk-fat instead of the standard 3%.”   (Aldeburgh Post:  August 21st 1914)



Wm. Elliston, in the employ of Mr. Mills, was on Monday 7th inst., conveying corn to the granary, when through a ball of snow on his heel he fell, and was severely injured at his ankle.   Dr. Kilner’s efforts to decide whether any bones were broken through the swollen state of the limb being frustrated, the sufferer was conveyed to the Suffolk General Hospital and put under the Rontgen rays, which revealed sprains of much severity.  A. Wright temporarily took his place, and while returning from Bury on Thursday had his horses startled, which ran away.  The driver, in attempting to alight, was thrown under the wheels, resulting in injuries to his arm and leg.  Both men are now out-patients at the Suffolk General Hospital.

            Bury Post:  January 22nd 1901



Thomas Edison, the great inventor, who despite his 61 years, has a boyish face and ardent hopes of living another forty years, was interviewed  yesterday in his laboratory, where he works twelve hours daily.  


In this interview, he predicted that…

Before long, science will enable the farmer to enrich the land by means of nitrogen from the air.

Locomotives will be thrown on the scrap-heap and all trains run by electricity.

No longer will coal be laboriously transported to cities, but there will be great power plants established at the mouth of the mines from which electricity will be sent out over the country by wire.  

There will be no horses in the streets, no stables, no flies; wagons will be propelled by electricity.

Houses will be lighted entirely by electricity, for it will be so cheap that it can be used by the humblest tenement dweller.

Ships will no longer be driven by steam - it will be possible to cross the Atlantic in three days.

            East Anglian Daily Times:  May 13th 1907


Soon, he predicted, the world would have ten times more    energy than then.   His advice on living a long and useful life was to eat less and drink more water.  Actually, he lived     another twenty-four years, dying at the age of 84.


The Weather

Now including weather forecasts, our local papers still found plenty to fill their columns with weather stories from the region, particularly when the weather in question was extreme.



The recent rains have been gratefully welcomed by the people of Whatfield and the neighbouring parishes of Aldham on the one side and Naughton on the other.   Since the drought of 1898 the ponds and wells have never filled up and during the long period of dry weather in the past year most of them became quite empty so that the inhabitants have been put to considerable inconvenience to obtain sufficient water for their needs.   For some time, Mr. Nunn sent a water-cart around the village of Whatfield and sold the same at a farthing a pailful.   As the supply from this source was necessarily limited, farmers and other persons whose wants could not be satisfied in this manner had to cart from considerable distances.  

            Suffolk and Essex Free Press:  January 1st 1902


Mendlesham Green - STORM - A storm of terrific force passed over Mendlesham last Thursday about 2 o’clock.  The lightning struck Mr. Sutton Bendall’s windmill, damaging one of the stocks which had only recently been put in, rendering it useless and setting fire to it.   Fortunately Mr. Bendall noticed smoke issuing from the centre and applied water thereto at once, or the mill would undoubtedly have been destroyed.  A man named Fred Finbow, working for Miss Colchester was carting a load of corn from Stowmarket, the storm upset the horse and tumbril and a thorn was driven completely through one of Finbow’s fingers into the next one and could not be extracted without surgical aid.  The sufferer is being attended by Dr. Brickwell.  

Great Barton - THE STORM - an almost unprecedented phenomena was experienced on Thursday afternoon, when a most violent thunder storm, accompanied by vivid flashes of lightning, passed over the village.  For some time darkness prevailed.  Trees were uprooted or broken as if cut with a knife, while tiles and straw stacks were carried away.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  February 15th 1906


After a depressingly bad spell of weather, this rhyme appeared in the Bury Free Press…

Dirty days hath September, April June and November,

All the rest have thirty-one, without a blessed gleam of sun,

Excepting February, which alone has twenty-eight or twenty-nine

But even if that month had thirty, they’d all be dull, and all be dirty.

Lady Kintore

            Bury Free Press:  April 18th 1908


There is one enjoyment, which Buryites seldom lack - skating.   There are few years when we are not able to enjoy a good deal of it.   Of course, Fornham is always one of the first places where the skating starts, as one has not to wait until the ice is safe, but the ‘skating time’ is when one progresses from Fornham to Ampton and Livermere.  

            Bury Free Press:  January 9th 1904


Of course, it was a lot colder then...



The skating public in Framlingham were in high glee on Monday by the announcement that a skating carnival would be held on the mere that evening.   This was inaugurated by some enthusiastic devotees of this exhilarating sport and was entirely successful.  They are to be congratulated on having been favoured so well by the ‘Clerk of the Weather’, who was kind enough to keep off the thaw till the following day…The public evidently meant to make the most of it while the frost lasted.    Though advertised to be a fancy dress carnival, there was a great predominance of undisguised skaters, only about a score of costumes being seen.   The vast expanse of ice was in perfect condition and the bright moonlight night was well suited for the purpose.   The volunteer band enlivened the proceedings with well-known selections… Fires and coloured lights here and there added to the general effect.  Those who had not mastered the intricacies of skating, regaled themselves by sliding, this form of enjoyment being indulged in by persons of both sexes, many of whom are passed middle life, and who no doubt had to pay for their indulgence by numerous topples and an attack of stiffness the following day.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  January 18th 1908



A tradesman of the city of Peterborough named Mr. Richardson was skating on one of the dykes in the neighbourhood, when he noticed through the clear surface of the ice a large pike, which shot off on the approach of the skater.   As Mr Richardson proceeded, the fish darted forward, continuing its flight for half a mile.   It then suddenly stopped and although the skater knocked the ice with a stick, the pike did not budge.   The ice was broken, and the skater placing his hands underneath the pike threw it on to the adjoining bank.   When brought into Peterborough, it was found to turn the scale at 12lbs.

            Newmarket Journal:  February 10th 1912



Famous people and events

The leading lights of their day visited Suffolk.  These included Baden Powell and Lord Kitchener.  General Booth, visited a number of towns and villages of Suffolk in the summer of 1909.   The Stowmarket Weekly Post gave very full accounts of speeches he gave at Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds.   On one occasion the enthusiasm of the crowd got slightly out of hand…

General Booth’s visit to Bury St. Edmunds in the course of his sixth motor tour was the occasion of great enthusiasm, not only amongst members of the (Salvation) Army but amongst all classes of the Community who gathered in large numbers to welcome one whose work has become world wide.  On Monday afternoon, after leaving Stowmarket, the General’s progress through the villages on the road to Bury was a triumphant one.  Everyone who could possibly get out lined the route, and gave him enthusiastic cheers. In some places, the enthusiasm showed itself by showers of flower bouquets and in this connection one admirer at Beyton Green very nearly caused the General a serious accident serious and the General rode into Bury with the streets lined with hundreds.   A bouquet of flowers intended for the car struck the General on the side of the face slightly injuring his nose.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  July 29th 1909


People who believe our local papers have always been parochial in the extreme have suggested to us that the East Anglian Daily Times once reported the sinking of the Titanic with the headline, “Ship sinks - Suffolk Man Injured.”  Just to prove this is a slander on our best-known local paper, here is the headline from the East Anglian for April 16th 1912.





Foreign Stories

Edwardian attitudes included a marked distrust of foreigners.  People were prepared to believe just about any story that claimed to come from abroad, however unlikely.  Some of the most entertaining stories published at this time fell into this category.



On Christmas morning the Mayor of St. Douan in Brittany found on the road a dead donkey covered with blood and near it a knife, which had been used to kill the animal.   Inquiry showed that the donkey had been killed by three young men, farmers’ sons.

One of them explained that as he came out of a café, he saw the donkey staring at him… “We were on bad terms with the local Catholic Priest, Abbé Gleyot.   As we knew that priests have the power on Christmas day of changing themselves into animals, we believed that the priest we disliked had changed himself into a donkey to do us harm… We knocked the donkey down and kicked it on the head.   Then we danced around the animal shouting, ‘We are not afraid of you Gleyot.’   Then I killed the animal with my knife, plunging it several times into the body in the hope that Abbé Gleyot would show himself.” They were fined £2 each for cruelty to an animal.

            Newmarket Journal:  March 2nd 1912



Mr. Charles W. Morse of Brookline, Mass., has deposited £200 in a Boston bank for the man who proves to him that the earth is round.   Mr. Morse says the earth is a flat square, and claims that he has scientifically proved that the sun revolves around the earth.   To the man who will argue that if the earth were square, ships sailing around it would drop over the edge, he says this is prevented by the great ice barrier surrounding the habitable portion of the earth

            South East Suffolk Echo:  January 6th 1912


LAYING A GHOST - A boy of fourteen died some days ago, in a small village in Hungary.   A farmer, in whose employment the boy had been, thought that the ghost of the latter appeared to him every night.   In order to put a stop to these supposed visitations, the farmer, accompanied by some friends, went to the cemetery one night, disinterred the body, stuffed three pieces of garlic and three stones in the mouth and thrust a stake through the corpse, fixing it to the ground.   This was to deliver themselves from the evil spirit, as the credulous farmer and his friends stated, when they were arrested.

            Newmarket Journal:  March 2nd 1912




Lee J. Spangler, known as the New York Prophet predicts that some time in 1915, the earth will drop from its orbit and be annihilated by its plunge through space to destruction.   On six previous occasions, Spangler has predicted the end of the world.   Two years ago he created terror among one hundred or more of his followers by leading them to outlying hills in their ascension robes, there to witness the pyrotechnics that were to accompany the dissolution of the globe.   When nothing happened, Spangler was chased out of the town.    He declared, the prayers of a few righteous men that New York city might be saved was what had prevented the international catastrophe which he had expected to witness.   He says the real prophet prophesies seven times, and the event comes to pass.   As this is his culminating effort, Spangler asserts nothing can save the earth from dissolution, unless a considerable part of the world’s population mends its ways and becomes good.

            South East Suffolk Echo:  January 6th 1912


In March 1911, the South East Suffolk Echo carried a good deal of correspondence, including an editorial, which stated Mormons had been active throughout the country, “enticing girls to Utah… 555 sailed from Liverpool last year en route for Utah, the majority going without their parents’ consent.”

“Safeguard your girls!” was the message, as girls were        supposedly being lured into a life of polygamy and intolerance whereby they… “are caught in the toils, the iron enters their souls, and English relatives see them no more.”

A deposition, we were told, had been put before the Home Secretary.


Royal Stories

Though the British royal family could rely on the press to report their affairs with respect and consideration for their    privacy, royal news was in great demand.   This period     included the funerals of two popular monarchs and two      Coronations.   As we have tended to focus, in previous books, on the joyful celebrations of royal events, we have decided this time to give a little space to showing how a few Suffolk         villages mourned the passing of a head of state.


HOPTON - the death of the Queen - a correspondent from this village sends us the following lines on the death of the Queen:- 



Her Majesty the Queen is gone,

We shall ne'er see her any more;

Unless we meet some future day.

On that bright happy shore.


A sympathetic heart she had,

Toward her subjects ever;

Twined around our hearts so tight,

But the Lord saw fit to sever.


She has fought the fight both brave and true.

There’s no one can deny;

Waiting now resurrection morn,

She has bid the world good-bye.


God Bless the King, Her dear son,

And make him altogether

As such a one that has just gone;

May they meet again forever.             


                                                Bury Post:  Feb 5th 1901


    The death of Edward VII was reported with equal sadness and the customary black borders around the margins of the paper.  Each town and village’s response was listed.  These, were typical…


WICKHAMBROOKE - The news of the death of the King was received in the village with surprise, as a very large number had no idea he was ill.  The news, which arrived by “mailman,” was quickly spread, and sympathy and condolence were shown on every side.


At Woolpit, the news of the King’s death was received with genuine sorrow.  A flag was hoisted at half-mast on the tower of St. Mary's parish church, and many of the tradesmen put black boards at their shop windows… Muffled peals were rung on the church bells at intervals during Sunday. 

            Bury Post:  May 13th 1910


The mourning continued up to the end of June and was marked by memorial services.


HARTEST - All the shops were closed and all work was suspended for the day… At the Memorial Service, the Rector (Rev. H. Wisdom) said he (The King) was brave in cold blood and kind to a degree: he possessed and exercised wonderful influence for peace and had great reverence and regard for sacred things.  The church was packed to utmost capacity.


At Lavenham, where the largest congregation that ever attended Lavenham Church assembled, the service ended with the Rector, the surpliced choristers and the Salvation Army band ascending the 145ft. tower.  At a given signal, they performed the National Anthem as the flag was raised.

            Bury Post:  May 27th 1910


Animal stories

Readers of these books will be familiar with Wombwell’s      travelling menagerie, which showed exotic animals the length and breadth of Britain for more than one hundred years.    The Halesworth Times and Southwold General Advertiser for December 3rd 1907 included a lengthy account of their return to Halesworth.   Arriving by road from Beccles, they treated the public to a remarkable show.  


More than one of the exhibits was quite unique, and could not even be seen in the London Zoological Gardens.   One of these was the albino Wallaby Kangaroo from Western Australia, which was seen with a young one to which it gave birth eleven weeks ago.  Then there was a great blue and red-faced mandril baboon. ...Another remarkable animal was a black pony, the smallest on the face of the earth, which presents a strange contrast to the ulmerdogge or boarhound with which it is exhibited.  Another uncommon animal on view was what farmers have christened the Tasmanian devil.  

Captain Wombwell… daringly placed his arm and even his head in the Lion’s mouth.   Almost equally daring is Captain Daniels, who went into a den of five leopards, and put them through various movements, also performing in a cage with two wolves, two polar bears and a brown bear, allowing the latter to take food from his mouth. 

            Halesworth Times:  December 3rd 1907


The article noted that the show was well supported by the inhabitants of the town, before moving on to Woodbridge.



Distress was caused when on return from South Africa the Royal Welsh Fusiliers’ regimental goat was ordered to be destroyed by the Board of Agriculture.  

            Evening Star:  February 21st 1903  

 Protests were made, and the animal reprieved. 

Not so, this next one.



A dog thief - not a dog stealer, but a dog which had been trained to steal - has been arrested by the French police.   He was caught… in the act of stealing a pair of lady’s shoes.   His procedure was so cunning that it left no doubt among the police that the dog’s was no untutored mind.  Nothing could be drawn from the animal at the police office, so it was decided to shut him up without food.   After some hours’ confinement, the dog was released and a police cyclist was in readiness to follow the dog home.   But the dog, when liberated, instead of rushing home, deliberately walked to the other side of the road and there sat down on a doorstep and awaited events, every now and again throwing suspicious glances at the police in waiting.   Finding there was no chance of the dog going home, he was again taken into the police office where he will meet an untimely end.   It seems sad… for so intelligent an animal.   He seems to have all the material in him for a good police dog.

            South Essex Free Press:  January 10th 1912



Cocks from all countries will compete in a crowing contest next month on the quays of Paris.   The birds will be brought by their owners in darkened boxes.   Each competitor, as his turn comes, will be suddenly taken out into the light of day and placed on a platform, where he will instantly begin to herald a supposed dawn.  At the same moment a timepiece will be started.  The utterer of the greatest number of ‘cock-a-doodle-doos’ in fifteen minutes will be proclaimed champion.  ...Such contests now replace the cock-fights of old.   It appears that the birds take much pride in victory, and are so cast down by defeat, that they ruffle their feathers in humiliated disgust and loose all their spirit.    Suffolk Chronicle:  September 2nd 1904


Local stories

By now, organisers of local events expected news coverage, much of which was quite detailed.  For example, at Wangford Water Carnival in 1906, a gathering of three or four hundred people watched races and demonstrations of life-saving.   Events included ‘diving for plates’ and ‘boys’ neatest header.’  


In the evening at eight o’clock a promenade concert took place in the school front which had been prettily adorned with a number of Chinese lanterns.   Here, a capital entertainment consisting of musical and character sketches, monologues, whistling solos and humorous songs was given by Mr. Ziba Sones, who had been specially engaged for the occasion.

            Halesworth Times:  August 7th 1906


Local politics was played out through the newspapers of the time.  The General Purposes Committee in May 1914 were demanding a better train service from Aldeburgh to London.  

In January 1901, the Lowestoft Journal reported great            discussion taking place over the construction of groynes and a sea wall at the Denes and South Beach, Lowestoft. 

Felixstowe seemed less concerned about such matters...


I met a gentleman in London the other day who had been down to Felixstowe, and he was very much struck with the ingenuity displayed in trying to keep the sea back with bundles of faggots.   He said he had seen most of the great engineering feats in the way of breakwaters at different parts of the coast, but, as far as he could recollect, these were massive structures, built on scientific principles.  I told him he didn’t know Felixstowe yet.   They had some masterminds down there, and they preferred faggots.   Faggots, I explained, offered less resistance to the waves, and let the water through, while those fools of break-waters stopped it altogether.   He said he thought he would go and live at Felixstowe one day - if there was any.


                        Ipswich Journal:  May 3rd 1902


This correspondent, writing under the pseudonym ‘XYZ’, on the Ipswich Journal’s demise, continued to write to the Suffolk Chronicle.  Others, too had points to make about local problems and local conditions.  Environmental pollution has long been a concern.


Before long, we are likely to have coming the question of the alleged pollution of the Gipping.   It is now a serious matter and it is interesting to know that the matter of sewage overflow is to receive the earnest consideration of the Council.   Those poor people whose homes are situated on or in close proximity to the banks of the Gipping are to be sympathised with.   The stench is at times unbearable.  By the way, have you seen those pretty picture-postcards, which illustrate with such charming detail the River Gipping?   They look really nice, and make you begin to think of the picturesque nature of the locality.   But when you get to the actual scene and find that pretty little bubbles on the water (in the postcard) are in reality a quantity of scum, your beauteous visions are rudely dispelled.   Perhaps all this will eventually be changed, and one of the attractions at this much vaunted health resort will be boating on the river.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  August 11th 1910



The growth of youth organisations

The impact of Robert Baden-Powell’s book, “Scouting for Boys” published in 1908 was instantaneous.   Over the next few years, Scout Groups were set up all over the county.   Typical of the many newspaper reports was this…



An interesting address was given at Leiston on Friday by Mr. R. Raven Hart, Scoutmaster and district oganizing secretary of the Boy Scouts Movement of Fressingfield, to a crowded and enthusiastic audience of about one hundred boys... They were desirous of forming a branch in Leiston... The great merit of the Boy Scout Movement is the entire absence of officialism.   There are very few regulations to be observed, but whilst sound discipline is to be developed, the spirit of true comradeship is never lost sight of.   All the scouts are on the same grade, the feeling one towards another being that of “all for each and each for all.”  Thus, the son of a chimney-sweep mixes with the son of a peer.


This article described the kinds of skills boys could expect to learn.   The elementary test included learning to fly the Union Jack the right way up and tying four simple knots.   A second class scout expected to learn elementary first aid, signalling using Morse and Semaphore and lighting a fire with two matches.   A first class scout had to learn mapping, judging  distances and heights, cooking, swimming and life-saving.


The uniform is inexpensive ...a belt, jersey, haversack and a one shilling ash stick, with feet and inches measured on it, and an easy   fitting wide-brimmed hat.   Short knicker-bockers are used as offering least resistance in going through bushes.

...Heard after the meeting:  “It warn’t bad, weren’t.

Aldeburgh Leiston and Saxmundham Times:  July 10th 1909


By August 1914 the Leiston Observer was able to report on a massive Scout Rally at Rendlesham Park.  A message was read out to the gathering from their founder, Lord Baden-Powell.





What a delightful spot is Rendlesham Park!  Just the place for such a gathering as we found there.   One thousand Suffolk lads had been invited thither by Lord and Lady Rendlesham for a Scout “rally,” and on Saturday they had taken possession of the camp which was pitched amid the woodland clearing facing the Hall.   Thrown open to the public, the park also proved an attractive rendezvous for Bank Holiday makers.   Fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, cousins and relations of all degrees came to see the boys and to watch their doings.   Bunting was flying gaily in the vicinity of the Hall. ...And the lads themselves made a very picturesque kaleidoscopic group.   There were so many different coloured scarves; here and there a lady scout could be seen; and at one end of a long line, a number of sea-scouts.

            Leiston Observer:  August 7th 1914


The Stowmarket Post regularly reported the activities of both Scouts and Boys’ Brigade in the town.  


The Baden Powell Scouts at Stow (Scoutmaster, W. Wright) are quite looking forward tomorrow, when at the invitation of Mr. Pettiward they will be found with tents pitched in the charming grounds of Finborough Park.  The members of the Boys’ Brigade (Commanded by Thomas A. Harwood) have had their turn in camping at Southwold, and a right good time it was, too, so I hear.   At any rate, there are a few individuals, as brown as the proverbial berry speaking in high terms of the quiet little Suffolk resort.

            Stowmarket Weekly Post:  August 11th 1910


And finally...

Whether it be through adverts or stories, the world of Edwardian England can be enjoyed and understood through the local papers of the time.  And as the last of these tales shows, there were articles there, which can still warm the hardest hearts...


CUTHBERT’S MEN’S SHOP LEISTON, are now showing an immense variety of ties, gloves, shirts, fancy socks, handkerchiefs and mufflers.   These make admirable Christmas presents and will gladden the heart of either sweetheart or husband, even in his darkest moments.

            Leiston Observer:  December 11th 1913



What might have been a very serious accident happened at Acton Lodge on Friday last, just after the sale of Dr. Herbert’s furniture.  Several ladies were looking over the house, amongst them being Mrs. A. Baggott, who walked from one of the bedrooms into a large cupboard in the roof and accidentally stepped onto a skylight in the ceiling used for giving light to the landing and stairs.   In an instant, there was a tremendous crash, and Mrs. Baggott fell through a distance of about 13 feet, alighting on the back of Mr. G. H. Kent, who happened to be coming down the stairs.   Both rolled down for a further distance of about ten feet, but fortunately, beyond a few bruises and  a severe shock, neither sustained any injury.  

            Halesworth Times:  March 26th 1907



The man Squirrell, who on August 9th was evicted with his family from the Glebe Barn, Hitcham where he had been living under most undesirable conditions with his family for nearly twelve months, has since been camping out beside a hay-stack, in a meadow which he rents near the Bildeston Road.   He has all his children and his wife with him, and at first they had to sleep on mattresses laid on the ground.   He has now got a boarded floor, and by means of poles leaning against the stack has provided some sort of awning.  The Inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has paid him a visit and served him with warning notices, but Squirrell affects to disregard all expostulations and advice... He is stated to have lost his habits of industry in his new position.   He loafs around “the estate” all day, doubtless, like Mr. Micawber, waiting for something to turn up.   He has no sympathy from the villagers in his present wrong-headedness and the question everyone is asking is how long will the authorities allow him to live in this unconventional fashion?

Suffolk Chronicle:  September 2nd 1904


“You lazy fellow,” said a Squire reprovingly to a villager. “Do you think it’s right to leave your wife at the wash-tub, while you pass your time fishing?”

“It’s all right, Sir!  My wife doesn’t need watching.   She’ll work just as well as if I was near her!”

            Newmarket Journal:  March 2nd 1912



Two of the oldest inmates of Chelmsford Workhouse, a woman of 73 and a man of 65 have fallen in love with each other.  Both are anxious to marry, but they cannot do so in the workhouse, and they have no home to go to outside.

    The story of their love-making shows how affection triumphs over difficulty.   A few years ago, William Chapman, widower and farm labourer, met Lena McCrow, who was then a widow of about 70.   Mrs. McCrow consoled Chapman for the loss of his work owing to the death of his employer, and a warm friendship began.

    Chapman found it impossible to secure work, and told Mrs. McCrow one eventful evening that he would have to enter the workhouse.   Mrs. McCrow, who also had a difficulty, owing to her age, in finding work as a charwoman, said at once that she would go too.

    The few things that she had collected in her cottage were that night handed over to her sister, and the next morning, two old figures were seen tramping along the road to the grim grey building outside the town.  

    They parted inside the gate, and for some days they had no opportunity of speaking to each other.   Nothing had then been said about marriage, but the forced separation in the workhouse stimulated their affection, and soon, they frankly became lovers.   Little subterfuges were adopted to make meeting possible.  Mrs. McCrow had been appointed ward-woman in one of the infirmary rooms on the ground floor.  There is a garden outside, and here one morning, Chapman appeared to attend to the flowers.

…Occasionally she would join him in the garden to water some plants, which had been given to her by the Chaplain.  

    As the winter came, however, the meetings in the garden became less frequent and it was necessary to arrange some other trysting place.   Fortunately, the lovers had a friend in the town, the widowed sister of Mrs. McCrow, who lives in a small cottage and makes a precarious living by selling sweets.   This cottage, with its few peppermints and acid-drops in the window, is now the rendezvous.  

    Romance is not encouraged in the workhouse, and Chapman and his Lena are not allowed to go out together; but they are equal to the emergency.   Mrs. McCrow goes out one day and stays the night with her sister, and the next morning she waits patiently outside the door till the tall bent figure of her lover comes round the corner.   Then her face lights up and she goes to meet him, and they spend the day together, sitting by the fire.   In the evening, the two walk back, arm in arm, to their only home, and part reluctantly outside the gate.  

    They are anxious to start, as they put it, a little home somewhere.   They could easily be happy, they insist, on seven or eight shillings a week, but they see no chance of leaving the workhouse.   The Chaplain however, has offered to marry them for nothing, and it is likely that before long they will be married in the little village church close by the workhouse.

            Framlingham Weekly News:  January 18th 1908


Back to Newspapers in Suffolk